From One Woman’s Vision, A Cultural Gift
The Cummer was established in 1958, when art collector, garden enthusiast and civic leader Ninah Cummer bequeathed the art collection and riverfront home, which she owned with her husband Arthur, to create an art museum. Mrs. Cummer made an official announcement of the gift a year before her death, imploring community leaders to help support the museum she intended to found: “Naturally no civic undertaking can function adequately without the interest and support of the community in which it is located. Therefore it is hoped that there may be additions to the Foundation from time to time so that this Museum may rank favorably with those established in other cities in the United States during the last few decades."On the evening of November 10, 1961, the city of Jacksonville received what would become one of its greatest gifts. That night, more than 1,000 residents and dignitaries welcomed the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to Jacksonville’s cultural landscape.
Immediately following Mrs. Cummer’s death, the Board of Trustees set forth to build the Museum on the grounds of the Cummer home. In less than 10 years, the Trustees would dedicate the Museum, and grow the collection from the original gift of 60 pieces to nearly 1,000 works of art. Among these additions was the rare and valuable Constance I. and Ralph H. Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain, one of only three collections of this type and quality in the world.
A Growing Commitment to Art & Community
During the next few decades, The Cummer expanded its presence by bringing quality world art to Jacksonville, and by providing art education opportunities in unprecedented ways. In 1976 alone, The Cummer held 192 workshops and classes for over 4,000 people, welcomed 40,000 visitors, and served 3,850 people through concerts, films, gallery talks and lectures.
In 1990, a capital campaign successfully raised $15 million to expand the existing Museum, acquire adjoining property, create Art Connections, and grow the endowment. With the establishment of Art Connections, the interactive facility and programmatic face of the Museum, The Cummer’s pursuit of education and community involvement reached a new benchmark.
Throughout the 1990s, The Cummer continued to grow and serve the community with bold new exhibits, renovations of galleries and gardens, the creation of new programs like Garden Week and the partnership with Duval County Public Schools.
Today, the core collection of 60 pieces of art from Mrs. Cummer's estate has grown to include over 5,000 works. Recent acquisitions include masterpieces created by Camille Pissarro, Gilbert Stuart, John Twachtman, Norman Rockwell, and Romare Bearden. In addition, 1.5 acres of historic gardens serve as a centerpiece of beauty for a growing number of visitors. Currently, The Cummer welcomes 120,000 visitors, educates more than 40,000 children and serves more than 13,000 adults and children through outreach programs in the community.
Celebrating 50 Years by Looking Forward
Fifty years after its dedication, The Cummer embarks on a renewed mission to “engage and inspire through the arts, gardens and education.” To mark the milestone, a restored Tudor Room will be unveiled at the Museum, along with core pieces from Mrs. Cummer’s original collection, and the reinstallation of The Wark Collection of Early Meissen Porcelain. In addition, The Cummer Gardens will receive unprecedented attention through new initiatives – including the eventual restoration of the historic Olmsted Garden – and the celebration of its recent listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
New additions will be made to the collection with input from the community. In addition, planning will continue to update the former Woman’s Club, now the Edward W. Lane Jr. Building, as the future social center for the Museum.
Educational efforts will continue to reach broader audiences through innovative programming, impactful outreach and unparalleled partnerships. A special emphasis will be placed on programs like the Weaver Academy of Art, which reaches thousands of children in Jacksonville’s urban core and VSA art initiatives that will serve unprecedented numbers of adults and children with disabilities.
Through a strengthened commitment to the core mission and broader community involvement, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens will continue to build on the vision of Ninah Cummer and her family, and move forward into the next 50 years.
Seniors, Military: $6.00
Children 5 & under: Free
Students*: $6.00 *College
Students with ID Free Tuesday through Friday.
Free Tuesdays: Admission to The Cummer is free every Tuesday from 4 to 9 p.m.
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